A recent trial verdict overwhelmingly in favor of Apple against Samsung could tip the rivalry for the worldwide cell phone market to Apple, and possibly narrow options available to consumers.
In August, a jury in the Northern District Court of California awarded Apple over $1 billion in damages after finding that Samsung infringed Apple’s utility and design patents with over 20 cell phone and three computer devices. The utility patents control the features that a phone or tablet can have, and design patents cover how the phone or tablet may look.
Despite the fact that the jury rejected all of Samsung’s claims against Apple and denied Samsung’s request for over $400 million in an infringement countersuit, the jury upheld the validity of Samsung’s patents and found that the company was not liable for antitrust claims.
Apple accused Samsung of infringing seven patents that covered a range of iDevice touchscreen capabilities including the “tap to zoom”, “pinch and zoom”, “drag documents”, “rotate by twisting documents” and “bounceback” effect that is seen whiling scrolling. Samsung was found to have infringed six of the seven patents.
Samsung, however, continues to believe Apple has manipulated patent law to gain a monopoly on what Samsung identifies as “rectangles with rounded corners”. Samsung maintains it did not violate Apple’s patents but was merely giving its customers what they wanted — smart phones with big screens.
This decision comes in wake of Samsung surfacing as one of Apple’s biggest competitors, surpassing Apple as the leading smartphone creator. As a consequence of the ruling, Samsung is now prevented from using certain features and looks without paying a fee to Apple, which may led to higher prices for Samsung products.
Contrary to the ruling in California, a Tokyo court ruled a few days later that Samsung’s devices did not violate Apple’s patents. This ruling was a rare victory for Samsung in light of the California ruling that Samsung had copied key features of Apple’s iPhone.
Samsung now faces increasing costs for its devices, and must either develop work around solutions or pay Apple licensing fees. The question remains, however, whether Apple would grant licenses to Samsung if Apple’s goal is to destroy Samsung’s Android and put it out of the market.
Apple is also seeking an injunction to ban the sale of Samsung phones and has identified eight Samsung products that should be banned from store shelves. The hearing for injunctive relief is scheduled for early December.
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